“Thus, a man’s pure consciousness is covered by his eternal enemy in the form of lust, which is never satisfied and which burns like fire.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.39)
आवृतं ज्ञानम् एतेन
āvṛtaṁ jñānam etena
The director in the office decided to inaugurate an annual retreat. Take everyone employed and send them to a different setting. Make a weekend out of it. Get to know one another. Bond over sharing similar interests. Hopefully create a strong team dynamic that later reflects in boosted efficiency and cohesiveness.
At the retreat destination, as a way to break the ice the host starts a game. Each person takes their turn, going around the room. They must describe what their perfect day involves. It could be based on present reality or entirely made up. A fantasy. Fiction. Whatever would make you happiest.
As one of the participants, you take an interest in hearing the different presentations. There are common themes. No one says that they wish to spend the entire day on the internet, speaking with random people. No one wants to be outraged over what a politician says. Hardly anyone wants to be alone, either.
Still thinking of the event a week later, you come upon an interesting revelation. The tie-in is the Bhagavad-gita. There are teachings related to kama, which is material desire. The follow-up question to ponder is what would happen if a person’s “perfect day” were repeated.
1. Diminishing returns
If my perfect day involves waking up early, getting exercise outside, enjoying nature, then if the same should happen the next day, it won’t be as perfect. After all, the contrast diminishes. If every day is identical, how I supposedly want it to go, pretty soon it turns into the normal.
Not only will it take more to satisfy me, but any hiccup in the equation becomes a quick source of anger. The Sanskrit word of importance is kama. This is material desire, particularly related to the body and the senses. Kama is like a raging fire; the more a person indulges it, the stronger the urge becomes.
This also means that my perfect day isn’t really so. The conditions are based on the temporary situation. For instance, someone who suffers from loud neighbors living in the apartment upstairs defines the perfect day as peace and quiet in the home.
If those neighbors should move, it is not that peace automatically results. New desires will arise, and meeting them will become the immediate goal. The process repeats, without end, through to the time of death, where kama carries the individual forward to another situation based on its influence on the consciousness.
2. Renewing nectar
An obvious solution is to stop kama altogether. Douse the flames of desire with the flood of detachment. This is easier said than done, for it is entirely possible for a person to become proud of how renounced they are. Maintaining that situation then becomes the central focus, which is also a kind of material desire.
If the same tendency towards desire gets shifted in the direction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavan, then the entire nature changes. Instead of diminishing returns, it is like a renewed feeling of excitement, anticipation, joy and bliss.
A simple example is the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. A person following bhakti-yoga can chant this mantra repeatedly. They follow a routine of soft repetition on a set of beads. This is known as japa.
They also engage in congregational chanting, with call and response singing. This is sankirtana. The same activity. The same song. The same words. And yet no exhaustion. No question of stopping. The meditation is amazing; an out of body experience.
Chanting is but one outlet, as others have the same affinity for repeated hearing. King Parikshit heard for seven straight days. No food or water in between. No fear of impending death; just increasing bliss in hearing the glories of the Supreme Lord, who is known as Hari, the one who takes away distresses in the devotional path.
Kama controlled and also wrath,
Removed obstacles from devotional path.
So that daily the bliss to renew,
Where again glories to review.
Unlike with perfect day so,
Since with new expectations to go.
More easily feeling frustration,
Better when in blissful duration.
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